Charting the Post–Cold War U.S.-Japan Alliance

Since the Cold War’s end, the United States and Japan have tried to give new purpose to their alliance by expanding cooperation while managing economic tensions—with mixed results. Use this resource to explore the modern evolution of the U.S.-Japan alliance across several policy categories. Click through the initiatives to see the actors involved and learn about their activities and achievements.

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    All Initiatives
  • Development &
    Development, Global Commons, Environment, and Health Initiatives
  • Economic
    Economic Initiatives
  • Foreign Policy
    Foreign Policy Initiatives
  • Science &
    Science and Technology Initiatives
  • Security
    Security Initiatives
Med Sci
Sci and Tech
Econ Framework
Common Agenda
Enhanced Initiative
Arms Control
Econ Partnership
Nucl Comm
Econ Harmonization
Nuclear Security
Civ Nuclear
Cyber Defense
Click on a tab in order to see all the iniatives of a given type, or click on a specific iniative to learn more about it.

Level of Involvement by U.S. and Japanese Government Officials

  United States   Japan
Director / Other Director / Other
Deputy Assistant Secretary Deputy Director General
Assistant Secretary Director General
Under Secretary Parlty. / Senior Vice Minister
Secretary Minister
President Prime Minister

Major U.S. and Japanese Government Agencies and Counterparts*

United States
Acronym Full Agency Name
EOP Executive Office of the President
ODNI Office of the Director of National Intelligence
NSC National Security Council
DOT Department of the Treasury
DOC Department of Commerce
DOE Department of Energy
USTR U.S. Trade Representative
DOA Department of Agriculture
HUD Department of Housing and Urban Development
HHS Department of Health and Human Service (FDA)
DOL Department of Labor
VA Department of Veterans Affairs
DOI Department of the Interior
DOJ Department of Justice
DOS Department of State
USAID U.S. Agency for International Development
DHS Department of Homeland Security
DOD Department of Defense
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
ED Department of Education
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
Acronym Full Agency Name
CS & CAO Cabinet Secretariat & Cabinet Offices
NSC National Security Council
MOF Ministry of Finance
METI Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry
MAFF Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
MLIT Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism
MHLW Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare
MIIAC Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
MOJ Ministry of Justice
MOFA Ministry of Foreign Affairs
JICA Japan International Cooperation Agency
NPSC National Public Safety Commission
MOD Ministry of Defense
JAXA Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
MEXT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology
MOE Ministry of the Environment

More About the Project

“Where do we go from here?” is not often a question you’ll find at the conclusion of a story. But at the end of the long saga that was the Cold War—which had shaped and sustained the U.S.-Japan alliance since its inception—this is exactly what U.S. and Japanese officials asked themselves. This resource helps explain their answer as it has evolved over twenty-five years.

At the outset, grand rhetoric of a new Global Partnership and Common Agenda to address a wide range of international challenges belied an atmosphere of economic competition that marginalized cooperation efforts. Still, new relationships formed, working-level coordination found opportunities to be productive, and a culture of bilateral collaboration solidified.

Today, with trade frictions largely gone, the allies have listed common strategic objectives and outlined areas for greater U.S.-Japan cooperation going forward, such as technology, space exploration, energy, climate change, development, and cyberspace. These are some of the most complex and pressing modern global issues, and the United States and Japan need to cooperate to tackle them. Understanding what the alliance has accomplished—and where it has stumbled—is crucial to maximize the potential benefit from expanding cooperation in the future.

This resource was last updated on January 11, 2017.

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About James L. Schoff

James L. Schoff is a senior associate in the Carnegie Asia Program with twenty-five years of experience with Japan in the areas of foreign policy, business, the nonprofit sector, and U.S.-Japan alliance management. His research focuses on U.S.-Japan relations and regional engagement, Japanese politics and security, and the private sector’s role in Japanese policymaking. He previously served as senior adviser for East Asia policy at the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense and as director of Asia Pacific Studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA). Prior to joining IFPA, he served as program officer in charge of policy studies at the United States-Japan Foundation in New York. The author is grateful to Carnegie junior fellows Anna Bammerlin and Cory McKenzie for their valuable contributions to this initiative.

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